It seems that everyone wants to put the pedal to the metal in life, and the need for speed doesn't yield when it comes to weight loss. We want to see results quickly. And yet, the pace at which we drop pounds seems to slow down as we get older. Or does it?
The commonly held notion that metabolism slows as we age was called into question last year in a study in the journal Science. Researchers from Duke University found that metabolism stays mostly stable throughout life, declining about 3% per year until about age 20 and then plateauing until around age 60, when it declines again at the rate of about 1% a year.
The study surprised many who accepted the historical convention that changes in metabolism due to aging contributed to weight gain. Nevertheless, it's likely your lifestyle that is affecting your ability to slim down. So let's review some key eating habits that dietitians say can accelerate weight loss as you age.
Avoid the latest fad diet.
Don't get sucked in by the claims of every new or old diet plan you see.
"Most diets are restrictive, challenging to follow, and are unrealistic to keep up with long-term," warns Sandy Younan Brikho, RDN, owner of The Dish On Nutrition. "If you love what you are eating, and if you are losing weight in the process, then you will not only lose weight, but also keep it off!"
Instead of a diet of subtraction, Brikho recommends adding in certain foods that can help with speedier weight loss.
Adopt the half-plate rule.
It's a simple behavioral trick that'll reap big benefits over time. Brikho says getting into the habit of always covering half of your dinner plate in vegetables helps increase your fullness, prevent overeating, and help you get the nutrients you need.
"Do this and you won't need to double the portion of pasta and meatballs in order to feel full," she says. "You'll lose weight over time by automatically cutting down on eating too many other higher-calorie foods."
Reduce the portion size.
Even if your metabolism hasn't decreased, you may be burning fewer calories because you're not as active every day as you once were or maybe you're not getting adequate sleep. If, for whatever reason, your calorie burn is not what it once was and you haven't reduced your calorie consumption proportionally, you'll gain weight.
Avoid that scenario and lose weight by reducing the size of your meal portions, suggests Jesse Feder, RDN at Strength Warehouse USA.
"You don't have to change what you eat, just the amount," says Feder. "In today's culture, we tend to eat until we can't breathe anymore. I always tell my clients to stop eating when they feel content."
Tip: Put down your utensils and take a sip of water between bites.
"By doing this, we can actually begin to regulate the hormones that make us feel satiated more easily," Feder says.
Shoot for 25 grams of protein.
"Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and will stall weight gain by preventing overeating excess calories," she says.
There's another important reason to eat more protein: protein helps build and maintain muscle mass which tends to decrease with age.
"Muscle burns more calories than fat and is one of the only ways you can increase your metabolism," Tomaschko says.
She recommends getting 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal to ensure you max out the benefits. Team up that protein with these Floor Exercises that Speed Up Belly Fat Loss, According to a Trainer.
Cut way back on sugar.
"Processed sugar is everywhere—even seemingly healthy foods like yogurt and cereal sometimes contain a lot of added sugar," says Janet Coleman, RD for TheConsumerMag. "Cutting back on processed sugar from sweetened beverages and packaged foods and their empty calories will help speed up your weight loss."
Coleman suggests substituting sweets with fruits, especially berries.
"Berries are high in antioxidants that help fight free radical damage while improving the health of our cells," she says.
Carry a canteen.
Getting into the habit of carrying a water bottle around with you in the car, at work, while shopping, can help you lose weight quickly for a number of reasons, says Tomaschko. Drinking water can help suppress your appetite and even assist with boosting your energy and metabolism. fills your belly, helping to ward off hunger. Carrying water wherever you go, discourages you from buying sugary drinks to quench your thirst.
"Hydration is essential to good health," she says. "It's so important to drink as much water as you comfortably can throughout the day," says Tomaschko.
You might even consider carrying your water bottle to family gatherings where alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages will be served. There's a clear connection between drinking alcohol and sugar-sweetened soft drinks and metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, says Feder.
Make meals more complex.
In other words, choose more complex carbohydrates like beans, quinoa, 100% whole grain bread, and steel-cut oatmeal. Complex carbs are rich in fiber, which helps us stay feeling full longer, so we snack less between meals, says Laura Krauza, RDN, owner of Waistline Dietitian. Dietitians recommend that women shoot for eating about 25 grams of fiber per day while men should reach 38 grams.
Some of the best sources of fiber per serving, besides those above, include raspberries (8 grams), split peas (16 grams), bran cereal (5.5 grams), lentils (15.5 grams), black beans (15 grams), and air-popped popcorn (3.5 grams).
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